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In the beginning of a letter (or mail) , which is the correct method to address a person/friend..say for example which would be more perfect "Hi XYZ" or "hi XYZ" ?


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is the way to go. The first letter of a sentence should be capitalized. Even in the most informal settings, lack of sentence case smacks of laziness. Whether the sentence in question is "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" or a simple "Hi Joe", doesn't matter.

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Well, lack of sentence case is commonly accepted as standard in various internet chat/communication media. – Noldorin Dec 30 '10 at 12:58
Commonly accepted laziness is still laziness. That is all I am saying. I am not even arguing that a new universal standard can't emerge from that; I will certainly answer a question about emerging standards in texting differently from a question about established standards in letter writing. – RegDwigнt Dec 30 '10 at 13:48
The OP did say "which would be more perfect" – bobobobo Dec 30 '10 at 15:07

I think the capitalization is important. However, there are some settings where a "hi xyz" is acceptable---namely, when the entire email is in lower case (as is often the case when sys admins and other hacker-friendly people write emails).

But, despite that, I think it would be unwise to use a lower-case "hi" in a handwritten or printed letter (though in these two forms of letters, I would rather prefer using "Dear XYZ" instead of "Hi XYZ").

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Illiterate email messages make me queasy - even in a sysadmin/hacker context. They mark the author as a bit of a lazy wannabe in my book. But then I write SMS text messages with "correct" capitalization. – RedGrittyBrick Dec 30 '10 at 14:55
Sure! Then I should note that if I were to ever email you, I should take care of my orthography. My point above was, however, to partially indicate that the "correct" choice is largely determined by context, and expectation of the receiver. But detailed discussions of such considerations would probably take us too far from the present question! – Suvrit Dec 30 '10 at 15:03
I always explain my point of view this way. Speech among friends is generally the most informal use of language: would you willingly make mistakes in grammar there? I wouldn't. So the position that it doesn't matter because it is informal is invalid, in my opinion. Granted, the rules are more flexible in informal language, but there are still rules. Not long ago a friend asked me whether punctuation was at all necessary in e-mail (he didn't use any). I asked him whether he expected his text to be easier or harder to read without. Oh and then there are aesthetics... – Cerberus Dec 30 '10 at 16:18
@RedGrittyBrick: You disapproval of the form has led you to muddled thinking. You simultaneously call it "illiterate" (the writer doesn't know what's right), "lazy" (the writer knows what is right, and doesn't care) and "wannabe" (the writer knows what is right and consciously takes effort to subvert the norm, in order to conform to some subculture). The reason for using lowercase can be (and usually is) one of the three, not all three! – ShreevatsaR Dec 31 '10 at 4:54
I admire high standards of orthography and clear thinking, even though I am not capable of them myself :-) – RedGrittyBrick Dec 31 '10 at 9:53

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